Ah January was fun, wasn’t it? Now, though, the last morsels of the awards-hungry cinema brood have come and gone from the convoluted movie buffet that is life leaving behind strong opinions, wild conjecture and some weird little quiche bites topped with limp celery. Yuck. Never mind that though, in the feeding frenzy everyone seems to have totally overlooked the table marked ‘February’ and the array of things carefully arranged on it; some familiar, some peculiar, some a pallid miserable tone that reminds me of Middlesbrough. After taking them all in, here’s what I find to be the choicest cuts from this month’s more modest of cinematic smorgasbords.
February 6th – Selma
Selma has been that film for a lot of reasons. It’s that Martin Luther King movie. It’s that central performance by David Oyelowo. It’s been that snubbed at the annual back-slapping ceremony that is The Oscars. This is one of many films this month that have a lot of hype to live up to, but given its subject of the civil rights marches between Selma and Montgomery in Alabama and all the good press that’s been offered at its feet it’s likely to be worth it. I say likely, I mean, I haven’t seen it yet, have I? How am I supposed to know these things?
February 6th – The Interview
The film that some fanatical internet-types thought would mark the end of the world as we know it, and not just because of the inevitable super-collapse of James Franco’s ego. Yes, The Interview is getting it’s cinematic release in the UK this month, despite being available on most of the web for some time now (if you happen to live in the land of the brave, home of the free, one-bedroom-apartment of the economically inconsistent, that is). If you didn’t know the synopsis by now, James Franco and his conjoined BFF Seth Rogen manage to land an interview with the leader of North Korea, when the CIA/FBI/clandestine types get them to assassinate him instead. Cue the highest of jinks. Or maybe some mid-level ones.
February 6th – Jupiter Ascending
The Wachowski’s are the world’s leaders in the ancient mystic arts of “oh, no way”, for example: “Oh, no way did this little known duo land a big budget deal with Warner and oh, no way did they just happen to make the biggest cyberpunk film of the century. There’s oh no way they can bugger it up now… oh, no way! They buggered it up! There’s no way they can come back from that… Oh, no way they just perfectly adapted Cloud Atlas! There’s no way they can keep this up!” and so on. I really can’t tell how Jupiter Ascending is going to take, but ultimately we’ll all be going “oh, no way” at some aspect of their latest Mila-Kunis-starring science fantasy epic.
February 6th – Shaun the Sheep
I remember back in 1995, watching Wallace and Gromit’s ‘A Close Shave’ thinking that that little sheep who wears a jumper was going to be huge. And lo, 20 years later following a powerfully successful TV series (that happens to play on most public transport in Beijing, obscure fact fans) we finally get that Shaun the Sheep movie we forgot we asked for. Whilst the plot of a rambunctious sheep and his lamby friends trying to get their easily led-around farmer back from the big city before he wakes up is silly unto itself, Aardman Animation are not one to rest on such laurels. If this doesn’t bring a smile to your face, invest in a new face.
February 13th – Fifty Shades of Grey
Never mind films we forgot we asked for, how about films we were told we asked for and have had our signatures forged to make it appear like a valid request? Those are my feeling about the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie at least. Based on that E.L James book that apparently over 100 million of you own (shame on you), we finally get to see what the erotic misadventures of literature student Ana and her made-entirely-of-money-and-opinions beau Christian Grey look like in motion played by Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan respectively. You already know what you’re getting into here, guys.
February 13th – Love is Strange
Whilst not as shameless an attempt at scandal as that other film out on Valentinemas Eve, Love is Strange looks to aim for something a bit nearer to the season; something to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, like you just accidentally swallowed a small friendly bear or something. With acclaimed performances by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, Love is Strange sees a newly married gay couple in New York forced to live apart after decades of being together. As sentimental as it’s played, however, if I get the chance to see it all I’ll be able to think is “Oh my God! Doctor Octopus is in a relationship with Dr Emilio Lizardo from Buckaroo Banzai?! Aaah!”
February 20th – Predestination
Did you ever see Daybreakers? Wait, wait, wait, I just remembered what I’m asking: of course you haven’t seen Daybreakers. I’m surprised I even managed to. All the same, it’s a great little pulpy piece of genre cinema all about a dystopian vampire future. You can tell it’s a dystopia because Ethan Hawke is there. And here he is again, in another little pulpy piece of genre cinema from the same directors, this time it’s all about time travel, private investigations and unneccesary-looking future surgery. In a word: wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey-crimey. Look it up.
February 20th – Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
You’ve heard the urban legend surrounding the Coen brother’s 1996 masterpiece Fargo right? The short version is that an impressionable Japanese tourist took the film’s false claim of its truth to heart and set off to Fargo to find the cash that Steve Buscemi’s character had hidden in the film. Her body was found by the Detroit Lakes in the snowy fields of Minnesota. Of course it turned out that the tourist, Takako Konishi, had been severely depressed and been following her lover around that part of America. But what if the legend was true? That’s what ‘Kumiko’ proposes, and I must admit, it looks damnedly interesting stuff.
February 20th – The Duke of Burgundy
So you wanted something more from Fifty Shades did you? Look, I know Valentinemas floats around this time of year but calm down over there, I’ve got you covered. The Duke of Burgundy couldn’t sound more art-house if it tried: a sado-masochistic relationship between two female entomologists in Eastern Europe as directed by the man who brought us the reality-melting-psycho-horror of ‘Berberian Sound Studio’. Psychological trauma aside, if you’re still after something unrelenting in its depiction of the limits of domination and relationships, then here you go. You’re welcome. I think?
February 27th – Monsters: Dark Continent
With all the buzz over Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla well and truly died down (some might say before the film was even out of cinemas, if they wanted to be cheeky sods) and with the prospect of a new Toho-helmed Godzilla on the rise, what do we do for our giant monster fix until then? Well we could either twiddle our thumbs and sing The Monster Mash or we could talk about Monsters: Dark Continent, the follow-up to 2011’s Monsters. Eh, let’s do both. Firstly, Monsters: Dark Continent picks up 10 years after the original, where new versions of the aliens have run rampant over parts of the middle-east, forcing American peace-keepers to adapt to face the new threats. Secondly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0R_oDEvYUY